Raekwon McMillan is receiving most of the national attention in the early 2014 recruiting cycle, but he may not be the Peach State's only elite linebacker prospect in this upcoming class.
Hard-hitting Cedar Grove High School (Ellenwood, Ga.) defensive end Bryson Allen-Williams is expected to play outside linebacker in college, and at 6'2", 214 pounds he isn't far behind McMillan in terms of size, physicality and explosiveness. He's rated as a 4-star prospect by 247Sports and Rivals.com (subscriptions required).
After leading his team to the state playoffs in 2012 and racking up offers from the likes of Alabama, UGA, Florida, Clemson and Tennessee, Allen-Williams has given his verbal commitment to South Carolina Gamecocks' defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward, according to Keith Niebhur of 247Sports.
Allen-Williams, who is South Carolina's second commitment in the 2014 class, is from the same Atlanta-area high school that produced SEC signees Jonathon McCrary (Vanderbilt) and Brandon Greene (Alabama) in the 2013 and 2012 recruiting classes.
Let's take a closer look at what separates Allen-Williams from the pack, and why his commitment is huge for South Carolina. Evaluating Bryson Allen-Williams' game is all about four "P's": Play-Recognition, Pursuit, Power and Passion.
On this play, the quarterback will try to influence Allen-Williams by faking a dive play inside before running out to the edge with his pitch man. Allen-Williams does an outstanding of job of not getting sucked inside and recognizing that the play is headed towards the sideline.
Allen-Williams doesn't waste any time chasing down this option play from the backside once he reads what's happening. The most impressive part about his reaction is that it's urgent and deliberate. He's able to take the right angle without over-pursuing the play or allowing the ball-carrier to run past him and turn this into a big play for the offense.
The SEC is the probably the most physical conference in college football, and Allen-Williams will fit right in. He plays run defense with an attitude, and his physicality will allow him to be an aggressive blitzer for Lorenzo Ward at the next level. On this play, Allen-Williams causes a fumble by flying off the edge and erasing a would-be blocker before having the presence of mind to scoop up the fumble and score a touchdown.
Allen-Williams plays with a great deal of intensity, and he truly looks like he's having the time of his life out on the football field when you watch his film. I wouldn't be surprised to see him emerge as a vocal leader for the Gamecocks defense during his time in Columbia.
Why His Commitment is Huge for South Carolina
If South Carolina is going to continue being relevant in the SEC East, it's going to have to stay relevant on the recruiting landscape in Georgia. The state of South Carolina doesn't produce the volume of talent that Georgia does, and every elite player like Allen-Williams that South Carolina lures out of Georgia is a player that the Gamecocks won't have to face in Athens, Gainesville or Knoxville down the road.
SEC championships are ultimately won with defense, and the Gamecocks may have found their next great defender in Bryson Allen-Williams. Now they have to keep him committed.